As taught to Rabbi Chaim Vital by Rabbi Issac Luria and Amended by Rabbi Chaim's Son Shemuel.
Translated by Rabbi Shabtai Teicher of Blessed Memory and Completed by Rabbi Perets Aurback.
Published online with commentary by Kabbala online.com
This version will not have all of the commentary.
Please note: The publisher explains that the Study of Kabbalistic Texts usually recommends that one review the material many times until they are familiar with the vocabulary at a minimum.
Also Note: Bold Text represents the translation of the original Text. Regular text represents the commentary and explanation of the translator. Chanoch's comments will be identified separately.
The rest of chapter 3 will not have my comments until the end of the Chapter where I will ask you to ask questions about the different types of soul connections expressed during this week.
Chapter 4 Section 1
In this section we will learn another way that all three levels of the soul - Nefesh, Ruach and Neshama may be received in one life time, even though it is not his first gilgul.
There are two other distinctions that apply only to gilgulim.
They apply only to gilgulim, and not to ibur or yibum.
Firstly, if a first-time gilgul earns his Nefesh, Ruach and Neshama (NR"N) and then sins and blemishes them, in his next reincarnation he cannot rectify them all at once except through the device that was explained beforehand (the saying of a particular verse prior to sleep). When going to bed he should recite the verse, "My Nefesh has desired You at night…."
This was explained at the end of the last chapter. The two distinctions mentioned here are made possible by entirely different circumstances, depending upon what happened during the first gilgul. Either he earned all his NR"N during the first gilgul before he sinned, as in the first possibility that we have just read; or, he earned only his Nefesh before he sinned in the first gilgul, which is the second possibility that will be explained here.
In the first possibility, he cannot receive all his NR"N in his second gilgul, except through the device of reciting the verse, "My Nefesh has desired You at night…", as was explained at the end of the last chapter. Then his Nefesh will remain above in the Supernal Well, and in the morning his Ruach will come down in its place. Now the Rabbi will explain the second possible way of achieving all NR"N in a second gilgul.
Secondly, if a first-time gilgul earns only his Nefesh and sins and blemishes it, when he reincarnates he can achieve NR"N in that gilgul itself. Since he had not previously damaged his Ruach and Neshama, they can join the Nefesh after it has been rectified, as if it were a first incarnation, just as it said, "If he merits more..."
In his first gilgul he rectified the Nefesh that he received at birth, and he never received either his Ruach or Neshama before sinning and dying. The Ruach and Neshama were never affected by the sins he did with his Nefesh. If he rectifies his Nefesh after reincarnating with it, then the Ruach can come to him in the same body since it was never damaged. If he merits completing his Ruach as well, then his Neshama can join both his Nefesh and Ruach in the same body, even though it is his second reincarnation. This is possible because the Ruach and Neshama were not previously blemished. Otherwise, each must come back in its own gilgul, as we have said until now.
How can a rectified Nefesh become the vehicle for a damaged Ruach or Neshama?
This is not the case when they have all come, and all have become blemished. For how can a rectified Nefesh become the vehicle for a damaged Ruach or Neshama? However, if he only damaged the Nefesh, then all three can return together in a single gilgul.
For Gilgulim Only
Nefesh does not rectify completely - there may be a second Gilgul.
Nefesh does rectify completely - Ruach comes - Sin happens - There will be a second Gilgul with Nefesh from a Ger (convert).
Nefesh does not rectify completely - Sin happens - Nefesh completes rectification - Ruach Comes without second Gilgul by saying the prayer.
Nefesh Ruach Neshamah is received - then there is a sin - Neshamah is affected by the sin - Rectification may happen in first Gilgul along with possible saying the prayer as above.
Chapter 4 Section 2
It seems to me that all the aspects of rectification are really the fulfillment of mitzvot, which are dependent upon the "limbs" of the Nefesh. All blemishes result from violating negative mitzvot.
It is well known that there are 248 positive mitzvot and 365 negative mitzvot. The negative mitzvot tell us what not to do. Their number corresponds to the 248 limbs of the human body, which is made in the image of the Nefesh. Thus, each one of the negative mitzvot corresponds to one of the limbs of the Nefesh, and transgression of any one of them causes a corresponding blemish or damage in one of the limbs of the Nefesh.
Positive mitzvot, on the other hand, require a person to actively do something. They cause tikune (rectification) of the Nefesh.
The complete entry of the Nefesh into the body, which is called tikune of the Nefesh, is accomplished only through the performance of mitzvot. Although sins blemish the Nefesh, they do not prevent its sparks from entering.
A person can perform positive mitzvot and in the same lifetime transgress negative precepts. As a result of the positive mitzvot he will be rectifying levels of soul, one after the other. The sparks of the Nefesh will be entering the body and becoming rectified.
On the other hand, as a result of the negative mitzvot that he has transgressed, he will have caused blemish or damage. These will have to be atoned for, one way or the other, but they do not necessarily prevent the progress of tikune.
This is very important to understand. Blemishes come from doing a "do not" Mitzvah. Rectification is made by performing a "do" Mitzvah. When one looks at the list of Mitzvot there are many Mitzvot that are in both columns. There is both a do Mitzvah and a do not Mitzvah. One example is Shabbat.
Let's take an example that a person violated "guarding" Shabbat which is a "do not" Mitzvah. Let's say they watched TV on Shabbat by turning on the TV. This damaged their eyes, their fingers, their buttocks, and many other parts of their body. How is this corrected. By keeping the Mitzvah of Shabbat. They will have this same desire and they will do binding by striking and not turn the TV on. This will correct the blemish. Let us say thay watch TV for 20 years in a row. every Shabbat. Do they need to keep 20 years of Shabbatots? We do not yet have that answer. It is up to HaShem and the Bait Din that rules when he passes. It may take a one Shabbat, a few Shabbats or 20 years depending on the strength of the evil inclination to turn on the TV.
The language that is used in this section varies and seems to imply different words for the same thing. The words are blemish, tikune, atoned, becoming, and rectified. The term tikune of the nefesh refers to the entry of the nefesh into the body. This implies that there are separate steps in this process of the nefesh entering the body. Although it is not clear in the way this section is translated. Let me try and clear all of this up.
The level of the soul called nefesh is not one complete unity. There are 613 parts of the nefesh which do not have to enter the body at the same time. There is also a process for the parts of the nefesh moving into the body.
The Torah uses the words "the Nefesh is in the Blood." The blood is composed of two parts the red and the white parts. This represents the Right and Left columns and therefore the blood is the central column of the body. This is due to the blood having both columns within it.
Let us say the heart component of the Nefesh enters the body. How it gets to the heart is not expressed in this chapter and the metaphor is not explained yet. This leads to a lot of misunderstanding of how this all works. As we grow in our understanding hopefully it will become clear. This is one of the reasons that the Kabbalists tell us to read a book once and then reread it again as if we had not read it before. We will be able to understand much more of the book from the first reading during the second reading.
Chapter 4 Section 3
However, there are two other aspects regarding this matter.
[The first aspect concerns a person]who only received a Nefesh during his first lifetime but didn't merit to completely rectify it--and then died. Since this first body did not complete the rectification of all aspects of the Nefesh, then, at the time of Resurrection of the Dead, only those parts that were rectified in the lifetime of that body return with it.
Resurrection of the Dead is a fundamental principle of Judaism. Since the body participated in the performance of mitzvot, it is only just that it should also share in the eternal reward for that performance.
Therefore, that body too comes back to life in the time of the Resurrection of the Dead together with those parts of the soul that were rectified during its lifetime. When this particular reincarnation resurrects, it receives only those sparks that were rectified through it. The other parts of the Nefesh return to the other bodies wherein they were rectified.
Therefore, when this Nefesh reincarnates into another body to complete its tikune, it can achieve NR"N. This is done by saying the prayer as described above and in the last class.
See Chapter 4 Section 1 for the "second possibility." When the Nefesh is completed in the second gilgul, it can become a vehicle for the unblemished Ruach and Neshama. In this respect it is like a first-time gilgul.
However, what concerns us here is not the possibility that all three parts of the soul can be received in the second gilgul, but what happens in the time of Resurrection to the body of the first gilgul that has rectified only a few parts of the Nefesh.
Then all the parts of the Nefesh that were rectified in the second body, together with the Ruach and Neshama, belong to the second body at the time of the Resurrection.
It was in the second body that the remainder of the Nefesh, Ruach and Neshama were rectified.
The first body has no portion in the Ruach and Neshama, but it does have a share in part of the Nefesh, the part that was rectified with it. The remainder of the aspects [of the rectified soul] belongs to the second body.
The rule is that the body of each person will be resurrected with those parts of the soul that were rectified in its lifetime. If only a few parts of Nefesh were rectified by the person of the first gilgul, then those few parts that amount to nothing more than a "minimal Nefesh" will be all that is available for the resurrection of the first body.
The Rabbi will now draw a comparison between this "minimal Nefesh" and the minimal Nefesh that we learned about in the case of yibum.
This is like what was explained in Sabba of Mishpatim regarding Yibum. The first body did not succeed at procreating. It only merits the individual spark of theNefesh. This is the spark that was left inside the woman during the first intimacy. However, the rest of the Nefesh with the Ruach and the Neshama belong to the second body.
We learned about yibum in Chapter 3 Section 6. Yibum occurs when a person dies without leaving progeny in this world, and it is considered a lack of success to the extent that it is as if the first body never came into the world. The entire Nefesh that was in the first body reincarnates to a second body, and in the time of Resurrection it will arise with the second body. Only a minimal spirit called "the spirit that the husband left within his wife" is available for the resurrection of the first body. The Rabbi is comparing that minimal spirit that was left within the woman to what is discussed here, namely the few parts of the Nefesh that were rectified in the first gilgul. In both cases, in yibum and in the case discussed here, the rest of the Nefesh and the Ruach and Neshama belong to the second body that will arise at the time of Resurrection.
There is an additional basis to the comparison between our case, when only a few parts of the Nefesh are rectified in the first gilgul, and that of yibum, when no progeny were left in the world. In our case, as well as yibum, the Nefesh is not bearing any fruit. In our case this is because it has no part in any Ruach or Neshama. They belong to the body of another gilgul.
This is the secret of what is written in the Zohar (ChayeiSarah 131a): "Those bodies that were not successful are as if they never existed." This is remarkable, because [it is known that] there is no Jew who is not "filled with mitzvot like a pomegranate" (Berachot 57a). Why should it [an "unsuccessful" body] be non-existent at the time of resurrection?
The pomegranate is a fruit that is full of seeds. Indeed, some say that the original pomegranate had 613 seeds, corresponding to the number of positive and negative mitzvot in the Torah. The Sages used it to symbolize the internal condition of the Jewish people. They declared, "Even the empty ones among you (Israel) are filled with mitzvot like a pomegranate."
When a Jew does a mitzvah, he connects to and participates in all the mitzvot that were ever done throughout history. Thus, even the most insignificant of them is "filled with mitzvot like a pomegranate." How, then, can there be a body that has no part in mitzvot to justify its resurrection?
However, this alludes to the idea that the main source of pleasure in the Time-to-Come is on the level of Ruach and Neshama. This first body does not even have a completed Nefesh. All it has is the spark "left in his wife by the initial intimacy." Thus, it has no pleasure and is if it doesn't exist.
This person's participation in some bit of the ecstasy of the world to come is proven by the statement of the Sabba in Zohar Mishpatim, p. 100a, Sulam #112.
The section referred to above as Sulam 112 runs to 119. In it it explains how the original man is resurrected from the Reshima (Impression) left in the womb of his wife during Zvug. This allows him to return to the world in another body which may finish the correction. Both bodies will resurrect. Yet the first man will not have a complete Nefesh. One of the tasks that will need to be completed during the period of the resurrection will be the unification of the Nefesh from the two bodies. That is not discussed, yet hinted at since it belongs to the period after the Mashiach. Suffice it to say that there will be different energy levels in the various bodies of people after the Resurrection and it only takes one part of a Nefesh to activate a body. This at least is my opinion, as i have not read this anywhere yet i have seen hints in various sections of the Zohar.
Chapter 4 Section 4
All three NR"N can be achieved in a second gilgul if the Ruach and Neshama were not present in the first gilgul and were not consequently blemished. Concerning this, the Rabbi states in the Chapter Four, Section 3 that he wants to make two distinctions, explaining the first one, a case where most of the Nefesh is not rectified in the first gilgul. This section, however, a second case, concerns a Nefesh which is mostly rectified during the first gilgul.
The first body merits to rectify the entire Nefesh, but later blemishes it.
There is very little tikune left to perform. The Nefesh really belongs to the first body. This is the opposite of the previous case where only a small part of the Nefesh was rectified in the first gilgul. In that case the Nefesh really belongs to the body of the second gilgul. But here only a little tikune is left to do, and the Nefesh really belongs to the first body.
When this Nefesh reincarnates with the Ruach and Neshama into the second body, they do so with the spark of another Nefesh in order to help them perform mitzvot.
As we will see, this additional spark is the main Nefesh of the second body, and it will help the first Nefesh complete its tikune while in the second body.
This is called a "Gilgul Kaful" [Double Gilgul].
It is called Double Gilgul because there are two Nefashot [plural of Nefesh] in one gilgul at one time.
Remember this well.
However, at the time of resurrection the NR"N will return to the first body. The second body will only merit the spark of the additional Nefesh that came, since it was the main [vehicle] for it. The original Nefesh was completely rectified in the first body (and belongs to it). Thus, [the Nefesh of the second body] will have worked for another, as is alluded to by Rav Sheshet who said, "Rejoice my Nefesh! Rejoice my Nefesh! For you have I read … for you have I learned
…" (Pesachim 68b).
This will be explained in more detail later in this chapter. In short, he has read and learned Torah for the sake of a Nefesh that was not his own.
Chapter Four Section 5
When all three NR"N were blemished, then they must return in separate reincarnations, and the Ruach and Neshama will ensconce within the Nefesh of a convert.
If a person merited his Nefesh, Ruach, and Neshama, but then blemished them, the three do not return together. Rather, each one returns in a separate reincarnation. But what are the laws governing rectification of each one?
When a Nefesh reincarnates into a body for tikune and becomes rectified, then the Ruach is not able to join with it. As we have already mentioned, a blemished Ruach cannot join an already rectified Nefesh. And certainly a blemished Ruach cannot join the Nefesh before it is rectified because the Ruach can enter only after the Nefesh, which is on a lower level, is completely rectified.
How to escape from this dilemma? How can a blemished Ruach reincarnate at all?
Thus, the Ruach must reincarnate alone with the Nefesh of a convert whose Nefesh is in place of his own, and there it will become rectified. In the same way, the Neshama will come into another body together with the Nefesh of a convert.
The concept of "Nefesh of the convert" has already been mentioned, and it will be mentioned further several more times. A special supplementary section is included at the end of Chapter One, Section 11 and Note 10 there. We revealed that section in its location in Chapter 11. It would be good for you to review the section.
This is the secret of what is written in Sabba of Mishpatim (98b):
"The Neshamot that encounter the Nefashot of converts … and they merit through them." A Ruach alone, or a Neshama alone, can only enter a body if there is a Nefesh there. Instead (of their own Nefesh) they take the Nefesh of a convert, and through it they achieve rectification.
The blemished Ruchot and Neshamot (plurals of Ruach and Neshama) encounter the Nefesh of the convert, which becomes the vehicle or interface for their entry into reincarnation. "They merit through them" because they achieve rectification through this arrangement. (This entire section from the Sabba was translated and explained in Note 10 to Chapter One.)
Having said this, we can answer an important question. The majority of people only merit their Nefesh. And only a small amount in these later generations ever merit to their Ruach and Neshama. Yet, we know that the son of David will not come until all the Ruchot and Neshamot are rectified (Talmud Yebamot 62a).
The question of the Rabbi is based on the famous statement of the Talmud: "The son of David will not come until all the Neshamot have finished going out from the body." According to Rashi "the body" is the name for the storehouse of the souls. The souls must go out from there to enter into physical bodies in this world in order to become rectified. The Rabbi now relates this teaching specifically to the soul-levels of Ruach and Neshama. If the Ruach and Neshama do not come into physical bodies in these later generations, then how can they become rectified? Mashiach ["the son of David"] would never be able to come, G-d forbid.
Now we understand that the Ruach and Neshama can reincarnate into other bodies on top of the Nefesh of a convert, and they, too, become rectified.
However, when the original Nefesh eventually achieves rectification, it can receive in place of his own the Ruach of a righteous tzadik whose deeds were similar to his. This will be in place of his own Ruach.
The "original Nefesh" is the one that could not become the vehicle for its Ruach and Neshama because the latter were blemished or damaged in the first reincarnation. When this Nefesh becomes rectified in subsequent reincarnations what happens to it? Its Ruach and Neshama have gone to the Nefesh of a convert. Therefore, in place of his own Ruach, he will receive the Ruach of a tzadik.
Similarly, he can achieve the Neshama of a righteous tzadik.
If his Nefesh leaves this world before the original Ruach has finished its tikune, then the Nefesh can, in the meantime, accompany the Ruach of the righteous tzadik to the World-to-Come and through it, receive its fitting reward Once its own Ruach completes its tikune through its own reincarnation in another body, as explained above, then the Nefesh will say, "I will return to my first husband," and it will reunite with its Ruach. Likewise, once the Neshama becomes rectified, his Nefesh and Ruach will return to become one with it.
Chapter 4 Section 6
We will now explain the difference between a righteous person and an evil person. This will allow us to better understand the differences among the verses and the things discussed by our Sages.
Sometimes we see that a person only reincarnates three times, according to the esoteric meaning of the verse, "Behold, G-d does all these things, two or three times with a man" (Job 33:29). There are also the esoteric meanings of the verses, "For three sins of Israel, but for the fourth I will not return…" (Amos 2:6), and "…Who visits the sins of the fathers on the children unto the third [generation] and unto the fourth [generation]" (Ex. 20:5). Yet, it says in Sefer HaTikunim (69) that a righteous person reincarnates up to one thousand generations, and there are other sources similar to this.
Thus, the question is whether a soul reincarnates up to three times and no more, or whether it can reincarnate as many as a thousand times and maybe even more?
The verse itself answers the question. The "four generations" refers to evil people, as it says, "…Who visits the sins of the fathers… to those who hate Me." In contrast, to whom is He "…doing kindness for a thousand generations" (ibid. 6)? The same verse answers, "…to those who love Me and keep My commandments."
Those who hate G-d are the evil people, to whom the four-generation limit on reincarnations applies. Those who love G-d are the righteous people, to whom "a thousand generations" of reincarnations applies.
The explanation is as follows: When the Nefesh of a person comes into the world for the first time and sins, becoming blemished and forcing it to reincarnate into another body to become rectified, this is its first reincarnation. If it doesn't become rectified, then it returns in a second reincarnation. If it is not rectified then, it returns in a third reincarnation, but from then onward he will not be able to attain rectification by reincarnating again. It is then said about it that "the Nefesh will be cut off from his people" completely(Gen.17:14).
This verse in Genesis is the first of many times in the Torah that the penalty of excision of the souls of the wicked is stipulated.
However, this is only when a person failed to accomplish any rectification over the course of the first three gilgulim. On the other hand, if at some point during those three [reincarnations] he began the process of tikune, even a little, then he will not be cut off. It is even possible that he could return to achieve rectification over the course of a thousand generations, if necessary.
In effect, the difference between the righteous and the wicked has been explained. The completely wicked will not be allowed to reincarnate more than three times. The righteous may reincarnate as many as a thousand times in order to increase merit and rectification.
Hence, one who does not achieve any rectification at all is called "evil," but one who rectifies even a little is called "righteous." All his subsequent gilgulim will complete the rectification process.
To what are these words applicable?
I believe that I heard from my teacher that all this is only true regarding the Nefesh, since it is from the world of Asiya that is immersed in the klipot. That is why excision [karet] is only mentioned with respect to the Nefesh, because only it can be cut off from holiness and remain immersed in the klipot.
The verses that talk about excision always talk about the Nefesh being cut off, G-d forbid. The Ruach and Neshama are never mentioned in connection with excision.
However, the klipot do not have such a strong hold over the Ruach and Neshama, which are fromYetzira and Beriya. Therefore, a person is able to rectify them without failure, although there are those that accomplish tikune quickly, and there are those who do it over a longer period of time after many reincarnations.
How is excision possible?
How is such a thing possible? We have already discussed the verse (Samuel II 14:14) where it is written that G-d "…devises stratagems in order that the banished ones should not be banished," that no Nefesh should descend into the klipot and be cut off there, never to be redeemed.
However, this matter can be understood in the following way: The good that was accumulated during the three reincarnations is dispersed among others. The evil that is now left isolated and alone is dissipated and destroyed.
Please realize how vocabulary changes. Evil is define for a desire to receive for one self alone in some uses and in this article it is defined as someone who does not make any rectification in three reincarnations. It is really the same thing, since someone deep into the desire to receive for oneself alone can not effect a rectification of any errors.
What is meant by the good is dispersed among others? Does this mean that a Mitzvah that someone does will be allocated to someone else? Where is the removal of bread of shame? Ultimately we teach that every good thing someone does creates an effect of pleasure to the body part that produces that Mitzvah and every soul part as well. This is the reason for the resurrection since the body follows the direction of the soul and does something good its effect is pleasure Midah Keneged Midah, Measure for Measure. Yet there is this idea of the Mitzvah is allocated to other bodies in order to eliminate the evil in the rest of the body. This is very rare and will be explained later in the book in more detail.
Chapter 4 Section 7
A righteous person may reincarnate many times to cleanse his sins while he is increasing his reward, but a wicked person will be sent straight to Gehinom to "burn out" his sins.
There is another difference between a righteous and an evil person that will be elucidated now, and in doing so we will be able to understand what the Sages wrote regarding Elisha (who was called) Acher meaning "other".
Elisha ben Abuyah was one of the four rabbis who entered the "Orchard" or "PaRDeS". PaRDeS is spelled Pey, Reish, Dalet, Samech, the initial letters of Peshat, Remez, Drush, and Sod, the four levels in which Torah can be learned. They are respectively, (1) the simple meaning, (2) the intimated meaning, (3) the expounded meaning, and (4) the secret coded meaning, which is the most mysterious level that can be known by mankind. Rabbi Akiva was one of these four rabbis who entered the realm of Kabbalah on a mission to bring spiritual rectification to the world during the horrible time of the Roman occupation and oppression. Elisha also entered the PaRDeS at that time. Although he was a great Torah scholar, he had not been properly prepared for what he was to witness in the Upper Realms. As a result, he became a heretic until his dying day. For this reason he was called "Acher," meaning the "Other One."
The Sages in Talmud Chagigah 15b made the following statement concerning Elisha. This statement coincides with a broader general rule that will be considered immediately afterwards.
"He (Elisha) cannot be judged because of his involvement with Torah." If a righteous person learned Torah, especially if he is one of those from the "early generations," then he is not sentenced to Gehinom.
Gehinom is the Jewish equivalent of Hell or Purgatory. A person may be sentenced to that place after death in order to purify him from the sins that he committed during life. Although it is usually a temporary punishment that does not last more than one earth year, the subjective experience may well seem interminable.
The Arizal will explain in Chapter Nine, based upon the Talmud (Chagigah 27a), that the fires of Gehinom cannot affect someone who has learned Torah. Thus, in spite of the terrible sin of Acher, he could not end up in Gehinom because of his many years of Torah learning and scholarship. Nevertheless, he, as well as any other tzadik who may come under the aegis of this rule, needs to be cleansed of his sins.
He must be cleansed of his sins [to the extent] that he will be able to enter Paradise. Therefore, there is no other tikune for him except reincarnation. For each and every sin for which he did not atone through suffering during his lifetime, and for which he cannot receive punishment in Gehinom, he will have to reincarnate. He will reincarnate as many times as is necessary in order to rectify each and every one of them.
The original text is obscure here. The translation is according to the generally accepted meaning.
Therefore, he will reincarnate through many gilgulim in order to atone and rectify his sins. This is not the case for an evil person who can go to Gehinom to be cleansed there of all his sins. He will not need to come back to reincarnate.
Upon this teaching, the disciple and author, Rav Chaim Vital (may his memory be a blessing), asks a question.
Now there is room for a question. Would it not be preferable to go to Gehinom to immediately clear all of one's sins, instead of returning through many reincarnations?
Humbly, I, Chaim, will answer this question. The Holy One, blessed is He, is Omniscient and knows that if an evil person reincarnates he will only add to his sins and the abundance of his transgressions will outweigh his merits. Since it is known that he has already completed the few mitzvot that are absolutely vital to the root of his Nefesh, it is better for him to be removed from the world. G-d removes him from the world, and lowers him into Gehinom to cleanse his sins, while the merit of his mitzvot remains intact. "G-d desires kindness!"
However, with respect to a righteous person whose sins are less than his mitzvot, the suffering during gilgulim can cleanse them.
The Rabbi is alluding to an important rule concerning reward and punishment. The Talmud defines a wicked person as one whose sins outweigh the merits of his good deeds. On the other hand, a righteous person is one whose mitzvot outweigh his guilt. Here it seems the rule is being applied to determine whether his gilgulim should continue or not. If he is deemed righteous because his mitzvot outweigh his sins, then his reincarnations will continue.
His many merits will remain intact even while he is increasing them with each gilgul. His reward will be tremendous, without limit. This is along the lines of what the Sages have said: "The Holy One, Blessed be He, wanted to merit Israel. Therefore, He gave them much Torah and mitzvot" (Makkot 23b).
The Sin of the Acher is usually not mentioned except there was a Sin that occurred after he returned from the Garden. One of my teachers explained that the Sin was to "see" two thrones in Heaven. One for the Shechina and one for the Satan. This is what he taught to his students. His most famous student who never gave up trying to bring His Teacher back to the concept of one God was Meir the husband of Bruria.
Bruria was a women who wore Tefilin and was a Sage in her own right. She is quoted in a few places in the Talmud
The vision that the Acher saw in the Pardes is the idea of the war between Good and Evil as opposed to the unification that is taught in Judaism but only explained in Kabbalah. The purpose of Evil is to test human beings. This is to bring greater pleasure to the human being. Please realize that this teaching takes a significant amount of effort to truly internalize and do not make the mistake that you understand it from what i have written here.
The Zohar also says that a man who studies Torah may not go to Gehinom except for a moment so that he can elevate those who are ready to leave with him. They will go to the Garden of Eden and he will return to the earth plane to grow some more spiritually.
When you reread this section, please take note of the difference in language that is used when talking about "a person whose merits outweight his sins" versus "a person who needs to be cleansed of his sins." There are many stories of Tzadikim who went to their individual judgment day or viewed the judgment day of someone who had carriages filled with black and white angels and each one would stand on the scale of justice. The metaphor is not complete and it is important for you to tear out by its roots the Christian influence on your knowledge of the words Sin in English and the 5 words that are translated as Sin in Hebrew. The words are Chet, Pesha, and Aveirah. Plus others that i do not yet understand.
By the way i am still working on myself tearing out by the roots this influence.
Chapter 4 Section 8
The statement of Rav Sheshet, mentioned above in Section 4, is clarified by explaining who his previous gilgul was, and thereby the concept of Double Gilgul will be illustrated.
Earlier we spoke of the gilgul of Rav Sheshet when discussing the concept of Double Gilgul. The Talmud says that Rav Sheshet was blind. When he studied Torah he was joyous and he would say, "Rejoice my Nefesh! Rejoice my Nefesh! For you have I read … for you have I learned!"
The concept of Double Gilgul was introduced in Section 4 of this Chapter, where the statement of Rav Sheshet was also mentioned briefly. In order to understand the Ari's explanation of Rav Sheshet it is necessary to examine the original argument in the Talmud (Pesachim 68b).
In the Talmud, Rav Elazar challenges Rav Sheshet's statement according to its first understanding. Do we study Torah just for ourselves, as seems to be implied by Rav Sheshet, or do we study Torah, Rav Elazar asks, because it is a commandment and a form of worshipping the Divine, as it is written "If it were not for My covenant [i.e., the Torah,] day and night, then I would not have put the laws of heaven and earth in place" (Jeremiah 33:25)? The Talmud answers that at first a person has in mind that he is learning in order to improve himself, and then afterwards he comes to study for cosmic and altruistic reasons, like the contention of Rav Elazar.
The above commentary will be one of the most important paragraph's for you to manifest as the Torah of your life. Reread the Paragraph above please.
Not only the answer, but the question as well, is difficult for the Arizal, who will now explore the case of Rav Sheshet (c. 250 CE) in greater detail. This will serve as a further illustration of DoubleGilgul.
It seems hard to understand when they say that he was benefiting himself and not others!
It is easier to understand when we contemplate the verse:
"If you have become wise, you have become wise for yourself…"(Proverbs 9:12)
In addition, why did he specifically say "…my Nefesh"? And, why is all of this recorded regarding Rav Sheshet and no one else?
Consequently, the statement of Rav Sheshet, "Rejoice my Nefesh…" still needs to be clarified. The Rabbi will now present a new insight into Rav Sheshet's statement.
To answer these questions we require an introduction regarding his gilgul. Baba ben Buta the Pious was a student of the elder Shammai. All of his life he daily brought a Doubtful Transgression Offering.
A Doubtful Transgression Offering [in Hebrew, 'Asham Safek'] is the name of a sacrifice that a person might offer in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. It is offered when a person is not sure whether he sinned or not and is explained in the Talmud, Kritot26a. Baba ben Buta, as a consequence of his great piety, assumed that he was always in need of such atonement. He brought the offering continuously, every day, although he probably never sinned in any significant way. The main point here is to show that Baba ben Buta was an extremely pious person.
It was Baba ben Buta who returned as the reincarnation of Rav Sheshet in order to complete some tikune that was required of him. Since King Herod had taken out the eyes [of Baba ben Buta], therefore he [Rav Sheshet] was also blind, as is known.
The story of King Herod blinding the eyes of Baba ben Buta is related in the Talmud, Baba Batra 4a. The Rabbi is mentioning it here in order to indicate that Rav Sheshet, who was also blind, is the reincarnation of Baba ben Buta.
In the form of gematria called "AT-BaSh" the letters that spell Baba change into the letters that spell Sheshet.
The Gematria called "AT-BaSh" is a method of permutation of letters. It is derived by writing the first eleven letters of the Hebrew alphabet in a column in a descending order. The next eleven letters are written in a column next to the first column, but in ascending order. See the gematria section and Notariken section on the Yeshshem Website.
Now we can arrive at the explanation. A person who does not complete his tikune in his first gilgul, even if only by a small amount, must come back to complete it in a second gilgul. When he completed his Nefesh in the first gilgul except for a small amount, and he reincarnates a second time, then all the reward for the Torah and mitzvot performed during the second gilgul are for the sake of the Nefesh that came to complete its tikune. At the time of the Resurrection, the Nefesh will return to the first body within which the majority of Torah and mitzvot that were required of him were performed. It had only come into the second body in a "borrowed" way.
In other words, the Nefesh that was nearly complete in its first gilgul was "borrowing" the body of the second gilgul to complete the finishing touches of its tikune.
Rav Sheshet knew that his Nefesh had first been in the body of Baba ben Buta, a man of great learning and well known for his piety. He only reincarnated a second time to rectify a small amount that had been left incomplete. This made his body sad, because it meant that all of his efforts were for the sake of that Nefesh, which in the end would return to that first body in the time of the Resurrection. All the benefit of the Torah that he studied and the mitzvot that he performed were for that Nefesh, and not his body. It was the Nefesh that had to rejoice, and not the body. Thus, he [Rav Sheshet] would say, "Rejoice my Nefesh…" and not me. "For you I read, for you I studied. It was for your benefit, and not my own."
At this point the Rabbi has explained the statement of Rav Sheshet, and he has illustrated Double Gilgul. Let us review:
Double Gilgul occurs when the entire Nefesh is nearly completed in the first gilgul. In order to achieve the finishing touches that it needs, this Nefesh reincarnates into a second body. In that body there is a spark of a Nefesh to whom that particular gilgul rightly belongs. However, the reward and merit of the Torah that is studied and the mitzvot that are done in that gilgul will go to that Nefesh that previously inhabited another body. In the time of the Resurrection that Nefesh will arise with the body of the first gilgul, where the majority of its Torah and mitzvot were done, and it will also take for itself all the merit that was earned in the second gilgul. The spark of the Nefesh that was the true identity of that second gilgul will be left, seemingly, with nothing.
For this reason Rav Sheshet was sad. He knew that the merit of his learning was going to the Nefesh of someone else, and it will arise in the time of Resurrection with Baba ben Buta, and not with Sheshet. Therefore, it was the Nefesh that had to rejoice, and not the body, and he would say, "Rejoice my Nefesh…" and not I. "For you I read, for you I studied. It was for your benefit, and not my own."
Rav Elazar demurs. Why should Rav Sheshet be sad! Do we not study Torah for altruistic reasons, and not merely to benefit ourselves? Accordingly, it is appropriate that the merit should go to someone else. Why is Rav Sheshet sad?
The Talmud answers that in the first place a person also wants to benefit himself, as well as others, with his hard work and effort.
This does not fully satisfy me. The second body will also resurrect with the Nefesh from the other (second) Nefesh. Why then is the body of Rabbi Sheshet sad?
As a separate discussion. Does a Ruach have the capability of becoming a Double Ruach? How about a Neshamah?
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